The Federal Communications Commission recently approved a large spending increase that will allow more than $1 billion in completely additional funds to be used to bring high-speed internet to libraries and schools across the United States.
The huge spending comes from the e-rate program that the commission has set up, which was renewed this year to start focusing all its support on technologies. For instance, using gigabit internet, while removing support for certain older types of technologies, like service for phones.
After the renewing was completed, the commission approved what they are calling the “reset” which will be the first funding since its creation back in 1997, bringing its budget from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion. The amount was first announced last month.
The quantity of funds that will be disbursed actually depends on how much the libraries and schools need. The commission is trying to make it easier for the libraries and schools to request the available monies.
The fund will not cover the entire amount that it costs to buy and install all the new equipment, but will give more funds to libraries and schools that are located in poor areas or rural areas.
The commission says that the total funding will likely take a long period to reach the limit and they suggest that it would not happen overnight, both the use of the funds and the actual installation of the high speed Internet.
The program is funded 100% by a very small tax by the name of Universal Service Fund, which is added to all phone bills. That means that the adjustment in the cap will increase the fees across the boards for all phone users.
However, the fee increase should be quite insignificant. Even if the total limit is reached, the commission stated that each phone user would only be paying $0.16 per month for every individual phone line in their home or office, which would total just $1.90 annually.
Republicans voted against this plan.
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